JANUARY MAKES A SPLASH FOLLOWING A RELATIVELY DRY END TO 2018

• Total of 174.5 hours of bright sunshine recorded during January
• Warmest temperature reaches 17.8°C; coldest drops to 4.1°C
• Six thunderstorms and four hail occurrences observed

Registering a total of 99.8mm of rainfall, the first month of 2019 was three times as wet as the previous month, making it the wettest January the Maltese Islands have experienced since 2011. The second week of January in particular saw its fair share of precipitation, given that 12.6mm of rain poured down on the ninth day, amounting to over 12% of the month’s above-average total rainfall.

While more than three thundery days are a rare occurrence at this time of year, Malta was rattled by six thunderstorms during January; five of which were reported between the 19th and the 28th of the month. Hail was also observed on four separate days throughout January, twice in the first week of the month and twice in the last, which is also double the climate norm.

Despite the stormy spell, January recorded a lower-than-average mean cloud cover of 4 oktas, allowing the Islands to enjoy an average of 5.6 hours of bright sunshine per day. Characterised by a total of 174.5 hours of bright sunshine and a below-average mean air temperature of 11.6°C, the first month of 2019 was sunnier than expected, but started the year off on a cool note nonetheless.

In fact, Malta didn’t escape the Polar air mass, which descended on Continental Europe during the first week of January, unscathed. A look at January’s weather pattern shows that the first half of the month was relatively cooler than the second. The lowest air temperature to be recorded was a crisp 4.1°C on January 5th, while the grass minimum temperature dropped to a frigid 0.1°C two days later.

Halfway through the month, air temperatures gradually started to rise, reaching a maximum of 17.8°C on January 18th. At 14.4°C, the mean maximum temperature was over one degree cooler than the norm of 15.6°C. The mean minimum temperature was also lower than the climate norm of 9.9°C, dropping to 8.8°C. In contrast with cooler air temperatures, the mean sea surface temperature for this month rose by 0.3°C to 16.1°C.

January was not only colder but also windier than expected, recording an average wind speed of 10.7 knots; this being 1.5 knots higher than the climate norm.